Student success featured during Bluffton’s research fair
Student success, ingenuity and creativity were celebrated during Bluffton University’s fourth annual research fair. On Feb. 8, more than 60 students shared poster-style presentations on projects and papers nominated by their professors. The event is part of Celebrate the Library Week, a campus initiative that highlights the high level of teaching and learning that takes place every day on campus, as well as the resources that contribute to student achievement.
“One thing that I’m inspired by as I talk to students at the fair is that students, even the first-years, are saying ‘Yes, I know where I’m going on my academic journey, and I am confident in the information I am sharing,’” said Mary Jean Johnson, library director.
The event also recognized the importance of Musselman Library as a place filled with resources and services that strengthen academic culture. Through the library, students have access to nearly 300 databases, more than 280,000 e-books, and close to 50,000 full-text serial titles. As a member of OhioLink, a consortium of 90 Ohio college and university libraries, students have an additional 46 million resources at their fingertips.
Dakota Fredette, a junior convergent media major from Arlington, Ohio, presented about the 57th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was based out of Findlay during the Civil War.
“I really enjoyed this project because it was about my hometown area, and I felt connected to the topic. Sometimes we can feel displaced from history because it happened so long ago.”
Fredette was also able to connect lessons from this project to his future career goal of journalism.
“I was able to research primary documents for this project, and it allowed me to seek out really good sources,” said Fredette. “In journalism, it’s all about the accuracy of your sources.”
The event encapsulates the energy, spirit and growth of academic research taking place on Bluffton’s campus. The importance of scholarly pursuit is instilled in students during the class Becoming a Scholar, taken the first semester. During the class, students do exhaustive research into a topic of their choosing.
Sydney Cobb a chemistry, physics and pre-med triple major from Archbold, Ohio, examined a question many people have light-heartedly debated—whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable.
“I essentially reclassified fruits and vegetables based on their fructose content,” explained Cobb. “I typed up all of the data that I found and organized the values low to high and split the data into equal groups.”
Under her classification system, one variety of tomato she studied would be considered a fruit and another a vegetable.
“Ultimately, I decided a tomato is a vegetable based on the dietary standpoint and a fruit based on the botanical standpoint.”
Classmates, faculty, staff and community members are invited to attend the research fair. Dr. Martina Cucchiara, assistant professor of history and director of the honors program, described the event as “absolutely wonderful.”
“It’s really encouraging to see our students really branch out and share about such interesting topics. They’re speaking with a lot of passion.”
Presentations represented the gamut of majors, programs and interests featured on campus—from global difference in birthing practices to the exploration of dentistry during a Summer Discovery Grant internship. Summer Discovery Grants, in the amount of $1,500, allow current first-year or sophomore students to design their own 4-6 week summer experience to explore the relationship between vocation and faith.
“These students are advertising the possibilities at Bluffton to other students,” said Johnson. “We have students sharing about their Summer Discovery Grants but we also have students showcasing their ceramics, and I just overheard someone say they want to take ceramics now this fall.”
All told, the work of more than 80 students was showcased during Celebrate the Library Week activities. Earlier in the week, food and nutrition majors in the class Nutrition, Education and Communication handed out food samples and presented on a wide range of wellness and nutrition topics. Pre-med and biology major Dean Walters also shared a Forum presentation on his experience researching cancer during a competitive internship with the National Institutes of Health.